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My fifth visit to Asha – a report by Dr Elaine Smith

My fifth visit to Asha – a report by Dr Elaine Smith

Dr Elaine Smith, a Rheumatologist and Dr Frances Loughridge, a General Practitioner (GP) from the UK volunteered with us for a week in February. They conducted clinics at various Asha slum centres including holding our first clinic at the new Seelampur area. Here is a report by Dr Elaine Smith…

I have just returned to the UK following my 5th visit to meet and work with the Asha team. I feel like part of the family now and once again received such a warm welcome. I am a consultant rheumatologist but attend to very general medical cases nowadays, when I carry out clinics in the Asha slums. My confidence has come through inviting friends who are GP’s to accompany me and, on this occasion, I included my friend, Dr Frances Loughridge; a GP practising in London.

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One of the new ventures this year was to travel to a developing slum area near Seelampur in the mobile unit. Frances and I were deeply touched by the desperate and poor living conditions there: no running water through organised water supplies, no drainage and the seasonal risk of the nearby river flooding the slum dwellings. However, I know that with the help of Asha the living conditions will improve slowly but surely. The mobile unit has an examination couch and chairs and desks and makes it possible to conduct a clinic in the more remote, underdeveloped and poorest slums.

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We saw the usual cases of infectious diseases, skin complaints such as scabies and eczema, and carried out ante-natal checks. I am personally seeing an increasing number of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the slum clinics and thus a need for monitoring of chronic conditions such as hypertension and diabetes.

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Frances and I were very impressed with the knowledge and dedication of the community health volunteers and their teams. This meant that any treatment or medical advice was continued when we departed. One of the tenants to the way Asha functions is based around the Ten Values. These are values established by Dr Martin and include principles such as love, joy, respect and empowerment. One can see that the Asha team display these values with a huge and wonderful big heart.

We look forward to returning!

Elaine Caroline Smith and Frances Loughridge

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